by Fr. Seraphim Rose
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES and Orthodox Fathers clearly tell us that the character of the last times will not at all be one of a great spiritual "revival," of an "outpouring of the Holy Spirit," but rather one of almost universal apostasy, of spiritual deception so subtle that the very elect, if that were possible, will be deceived, of the virtual disappearance of Christianity from the face of the earth. "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) It is precisely in the last times that satan is to be loosed (Apoc. 20:3) in order to produce the final and greatest outpouring of evil upon the earth.
The "charismatic revival," the product of a world without sacraments, without grace, a world thirsting for spiritual "signs" without being able to discern the spirits that give the signs, is itself a "sign" of these apostate times. The ecumenical movement itself remains always a movement of "good intentions" and feeble humanitarian "good deeds"; but when it is joined by a movement with "power," indeed "with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9), then who will be able to stop it? The "charismatic revival" comes to the rescue of a floundering ecumenism, and pushes it on to its goal. And this goal, as we have seen, is not merely "Christian" in nature - the "refounding of the Church of Christ," to use the blasphemous utterance of Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople - that is only the first step to a larger goal which lies entirely outside of Christianity: the establishment of the "spiritual unity" of all religions, of all mankind.
However, the followers of the "charismatic revival" believe their experience is "Christian"; they will have nothing to do with occultism and Eastern religions; and they doubtless reject outright the whole comparison in the preceding pages of the "charismatic revival" with spiritism. Now it is quite true that religiously the "charismatic revival" is on a higher level than spiritism, which is a product of quite gross credulity and superstition; that its techniques are more refined and its phenomena more plentiful and more easily obtained; and that its whole ideology gives the appearance of being "Christian" - not Orthodox, but something that is not far from Protestant fundamentalism with an added "ecumenical" coloring.
Those who bring Christian ideas to the experience assume that the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" is a Christian experience. But if it can be given to those who merely seek a cheap, easy status experience - then there is no necessary connection whatever between this experience and Christ. The very possibility of an experience of a "Pentecost without Christ" means that the experience in itself is not Christian at all; "Christians," often sincere and well-meaning, are reading into the experience a Christian content which in itself it does not have.
Do we not have here the common denominator of "spiritual experience" which is needed for a new world religion? Is this not perhaps the key to the "spiritual unity" of mankind which the ecumenical movement has sought in vain?